ITC Rules Motorola Infringed Microsoft Patent

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Microsoft manages to convince ITC that Motorola infringed just one patent out of seven

The US International Trade Commission (ITC) has ruled that Motorola Mobility’s smartphones infringe one of Microsoft’s patents.

However Microsoft is likely to be disappointed with the outcome as it failed to convince the judge that six of its other patents were being infringed as well.

Bittersweet Victory

Microsoft believes that its patents are widely used in Android smartphones and claimed that Motorola had infringed seven patents that were “essential to the smartphone user experience.” It filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer in October 2010 after Motorola refused to pay royalties.

These patents included the synchronisation of emails, calendars and contracts, scheduling of meetings and notifying applications of changes in signal strength and battery power.

The patent that Motorola was found to have infringed allowed users to schedule meeting requests from their mobile devices and was issued in 2002.

“For business users, that’s an essential feature,” commented analyst Florian Mueller. “If they’re on travel or even just at lunch or in a meeting room, they want to be able to schedule meetings without having to go back to their office.”

Microsoft had sought to block the sale of Motorola’s Android smartphones and Xoom tablets but  Motorola has claimed that the majority of the ruling is favourable to the handset maker as it provides clarity on what Microsoft owns and would assist it in avoiding future infringements.

License of Lawsuit

The lawsuit is part of Microsoft’s ongoing “license-or-lawsuit” strategy over Android which has seen manufacturers HTC and Samsung enter licensing agreements with the company. Google has accused Microsoft of extortion although Mueller thinks that such solutions may be beneficial.

The ones who can actually sit back and relax as they watch this are those who have concluded license deals with Microsoft (or other patent holders) and don’t have to worry about possible or actual import bans, possible or impossible workarounds, or further escalation,” he said.

Google announced plans to acquire Motorola Mobility for £7.7 billion in August in a move widely seen to strengthen the Android platform and to acquire patents which would assist it in its ongoing legal struggles with Apple.

The ruling is the second judgement made by the ITC in as many days after it yesterday told HTC it must remove a user interface feature from its smartphones by April or they would be banned in the US following a complaint by Apple.

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